Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) Taiwan will begin regulating the amount of glycidyl fatty acid esters (GEs) – which is likely carcinogenic when ingested by humans – in edible oil and oil-based food products as soon as 2024, according to the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA).
The TFDA is set to revise the Sanitation Standard for Contaminants and Toxins in Food and restrict the presence of GEs in edible vegetable oils and marine oils, including palm oil, fish oil, and seal oil, Chou Pei-ju (周珮如), a food items division chief at the TFDA, told reporters.
According to the TFDA, GEs are food contaminants found in edible oils that form during the refining process and can turn into the compound glycidol when ingested by humans.
Glycidol is classified as “probably carcinogenic” under the U.N.’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, indicating that there is strong evidence it can cause cancer in humans.
Under the new regulations, the amount of GEs may not exceed 1,000 micrograms per kilogram in edible oil used in the production of food items, including cookies and chocolate, Chou said.
Meanwhile, the amount of GEs in oils used to make cereal-based complementary foods and non-staple foods for infants and young children is limited to 500 micrograms per kg, Chou said.
As oil businesses and food companies need time to make the necessary adjustments, the new regulations are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, Chou said.
Once the new regulations are rolled out, a fine of between NT$30,000 (US$1,082.50) to NT$3 million can be imposed on producers for noncompliance.
Meanwhile, food manufacturers that make snacks such as cookies and chocolate are to be held to a higher standard and subject to fines of NT$60,000 to NT$200 million if they break the law, Chou said.
The TFDA began to consider regulating GEs in 2018. In July last year, the body set standards for infant formula, follow-up infant formula, and foods for special medical purposes intended for infants and young children.
Currently, powdered products in the above categories cannot contain more than 50 micrograms of GEs per kilogram, while liquid products are limited to 6 micrograms/kg of GEs.
(By Chiang Huei-chun and James Lo)
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